By Chris Parker
Liberty volleyball failed to win a district title for just the third time in 11 years last season. That didn’t stop the Eagles from another 20-win season going 22-10-1. It was the ninth consecutive season with at least 22 wins for the Eagles.
“Tradition is motivating in small towns. We are very blessed with great athletes, a great community support system and administration,” Liberty head volleyball coach Shari Tune said. “The girls, community and school all put in the effort for consistency. Tradition creates a belief that these girls are part of. Believing in a system, program is what makes it work. If you believe in something then you will put in the work needed for it.”
Four all-conference players return for Liberty led by First-Team All-SCA selections Kelstin Roy (OH) and Peyton Bush (MH). Roy had 200 kills last year while Bush added in 183.
“Roy and Peyton are fun athletes. They want to get better on the floor. They study, they ask questions and they practice until they learn it. They are great IQ leaders. They see the floor well,” Tune said. “I don’t have to have too many expectations, because they carry them already in themselves. They are four-year starters that know they have to lead, mentally and physically, they have to teach, and they have to get better daily. The biggest thing they both have to focus on is staying healthy.”
Aspen Smotherman returns at libero after earning second-team all-conference honors last season. Smotherman led the Eagles in digs (281), serve-receives (417) and aces (32).
“Last year was her first year at libero position as she had to follow Trinity Clark, which is tough. However, handled it like a champ. Her speed and control ability are huge for us,” Tune said.
Junior Lexi Shumpert rounds out the returning all-conference players for Liberty. She was third on the team in kills with 111 last season.
Senior Jocelyn Clark and junior Kenna Woolsey are the other returning players for Liberty. Woolsey is a defensive player that brings vocal leadership.
“She brings a huge vocal leadership to the floor that we will rely on. She will be my utility player this year. She will be wherever I need her and she handles every position well,” Tune said.
Shelby Acklin (junior DS), Kenzie Daniels (sophomore front row), Bre Daniels (freshman OH/M) and Lyla Cornman (S/OH) are some players fighting to make a varsity impact.
Tune doesn’t have specific expectations for her team, but instead just mostly wants her girls to go out and compete.
“I’m not a fan of expectations. They are dangerous. They get you sidetracked. Every team has the same goals. Of course it is nice to win and get a trip to state or a conference title. We just hope to compete, make some postseason noise and most of all stay healthy,” Tune said.
Liberty opens the season on Sept. 1 at Poplar Bluff.